Great Lakes Steady Rollin’ IPA

Great Lakes' Steady Rollin' IPA
Great Lake’s Steady Rollin’ IPA

Wordy packaging but a simple beer. Good score for info, however, and this one is at 4.8% alk with 50 IBU’s. Following a neat recent trend, the bottom of the sixer’s carton recommends the proper glass to drink this out of, and food pairings (spicy chicken tacos and fresh salad, by the way).

Single variety of hops, Mosaic, and this one is another “Session” IPA, and i really have to find out what that means one day. The technical stuff aside, i’ve had Great Lakes beer before but wasn’t bowled over by it. This one is pretty good. A low alcohol IPA for an active Summer day, clean taste and a medium-weight beer body.

Already found the perfect Summer IPA: the Bonobo from CB. But this one is a pleasing second place, nearly a creamy taste and low on the malted sweetness. I could serve this to friends and not worry whether they like it or not. A fine beer for what it tries to be, a 7.1 rating is fully earned.

Just wondering, is there any beer out there, where they recommend pairing it with bacon-wrapped meatballs? I mean, chicken tacos and fresh salad is… kinda limpdicky.

Trouble Brewing Cat’s Away IPA

Trouble's Cat's Away IPA
Trouble’s Cat’s Away IPA

There must be a hop variety which tastes like blood, because i’ve had another IPA, from Oskar Blues, with the same odd flavor as this one from Trouble Brewery. Not off-putting, just an odd flavor for a beer to have. Then again, the package has two cans in a boxing match and the top of the can bears a slogan: “Here Comes Trouble,” so maybe it actually is blood?

Slightly darker and fuller-bodied than many IPAs, not crazy hoppy, but enough to confirm that it is what it says it is. Reminds me of that American India Pale Ale from Saranac, with the hearty real-beer base beneath the hops. I like it. 5.9% alks in here, and that heavier beer base, so it’s not a summery IPA, but i like it in July anyway. Good price at $13.29 for the sampler 12, called A Pack Of Trouble, and a sixer was $8.29 so it’s only five bucks for the bonus six, and i really like that.

The taste is middling, lower on the IBU scale, but the body is higher quality than many. Deliberation and contemplation ensues, and i think a 6.7 is a fair rating here. Had better but had worse too, and at $1.10 per can it’s a square deal. In fact, the price is so appealing that i hope the other 3 varieties in the sampler 12 are as good. Would be hard to spend $8.29 on six of these, but $13.29 for 12 in a range of styles sounds like a great idea. If the others are good, will definitely get another Pack Of Trouble.

Labatt Blue Light Lime

Labatt's Blue Light Lime
Labatt’s Blue Light Lime

Well it’s not beer. Anyone who calls this “beer” needs to be reminded that this is an alcoholish ade, not a beer. As a beer, this would be an abomination unto my sight. Fruit does not belong in beer. Sometimes hops can lend fruitish flavors to a beer, but those are hops, not fruits. So that’s where this drink stands.

But as a summery drink, it’s got its place. 4% alk and i don’t believe this is fermented like a beer, i think it’s some water with lime flavors added, then they toss in some carbonation and a touch of grain spirits. If you like the flavor of lime, you might like this. It’s like Sprite with alcohol.

On the chance i’m wrong and there is some kind of grain, rice perhaps, which is being fermented to make this stuff, then i owe it a review. As a beer it’s abhorrent and a 0.2 seems generous. But as a fizzy punchy lime-ade, then we’re talking about a 115-calorie drink with a zippy lime talent and reasonably respectable 4% alk content. Not too bad as an ade, it gets a 6.6.

Oskar Blues IPA

Oskar Blues IPA
Oskar Blues IPA

A pretty good one, right in the middle of the pack. Nothing stellar but nothing screwed up either. A mighty fine IPA. 6.43% alk in this one, though how they can be that specific about their gravity is an oddment. Lightly cloudy beer, more clear than cloud, and it effervesces more than usual for an IPA. Definitely like this, but at $9 for six and that’s a buck-off on sale, there are better beers out there at the price.

There’s also a slight metallic taste to this IPA, which could just be hops playing tricks on my tongue, or it could have something to do with the other Oskar ale i tried,  the “Pinner,” which tasted lightly like blood. Maybe it’s their water source, bringing in extra iron, i don’t know.

But the hops are well done, the body is midgrade, and it’s tasty. Ish. Rating here is 6.2 but would be higher without that metallic twinge.

Rohrbach Red Wing Red Ale

Rohrbach's Red Wing Red Ale
Rohrbach’s Red Wing Red Ale

Youngers won’t remember, but once the Berlin Wall came down and the Kremlin got de-communist-ified, it was safe to make “red” beer again without some rat-faced Congressman using you as a scarecrow. Even Genesee did it, making “Genny Red”, but my favorite was Carlsberg’s version, the Red Elephant, which came in an oilcan 25 ouncer, and which would trample you.

Now since Rohrbach Brewery is in Rochester NY, and the home baseball team is the Red Wings, simple to predict that eventually we’d get a Red Wing Red Ale, and here it is. One ding against Rohrbach is that they don’t put much info about the beers on the side of their cans, or on the bottom (i looked, and it has a use-by date down there and “please store cold”). Rohrbach doesn’t tell you how strong their beers are, and i found out the hard way that their Highland Lager is quite a bit stronger than suspected.

But a plus for Rohrbach is the 1-pint cans with easily recycleable hard plastic clusterers. Not like the usual soft-plastic can clusterers, where you have to grab the scissors and cut each loop to be a responsible person and prevent seabirds from strangling.

As for the beer itself, this red ale is clear with a healthy coppery tone, a mellow taste and that customary “red beer” aftertaste of iron. Juicy midranges in the taste, like oatmeal with orange syrup, or saltines with nutella spread. Overall a tasty brew, but pricey at $9 for 4×16 cans = only 64 ounces.

So it’s a fine beer but i’m going to give a seemingly low rating. Part of that is the price, part of that is the fact that Red Elephant was the only one i really liked out of the flood of reds in the 1990’s. If you’re after a red, then this one is for you. I just prefer other types of beer. So this one gets a 4.5 from me.

Wachusetts Green Monsta IPA


Wachusett's Green Monsta IPA
Wachusett’s Green Monsta IPA

Wondered about the odd pattern on the label and the odd name of this IPA, and then realized: of course! It’s made in Massachusetts and the pattern is the stitching on a baseball, so the Green Monster is the one in Fenway Park. But the Red Sox have trademarked the phrase “Green Monster” which is ridiculous, it’s like getting a patent on bread, but it means this beer has to be Monsta instead of Monster. The Red Sox even went as far as slapping Ellwood Blues when he used to say on his radio hour that his sponsor, The House Of Blues restaurant chain’s place in Boston was “right behind the Green Monster.” Now Ellwood has to say “behind Fenway Park.” Ridiculous.

In any case, now safe from being sued by a baseball club they likely adore, the Wachusett Brewery has another winner on its hands. Billed as “unfiltered” and an “American India Pale Ale”, which is… nevermind… this sippyslut is a healthy 6.1% alk with a stand-up 55 IBUs. Cloudy so it’s certainly unfiltered, but if they want to go that route, they need to talk to the Monkey Handler at CB Craftbrewers about the Makumba, which is so unfiltered as to be chewy.

This Massachewy beer is not as dirty as all that, but it does chew up and spit out most of its competition. A killa dilla of a beer, strong beer body flavor and adventurous hoppys (Amarillo, Cascade and Centennial). It all adds up to a deep one to left center and if you want to catch it, look out where you’re running. The hops are citrus of course, but the hint of sweetness brings out other tart fruits, nectarine and peach.

Have to place this one in the top five IPAs to cross this tongue, and it breaks the tie. The previous 4 toppers were Smuttynose Finestkind from Maine and Sam Adams’s 48º from Boston, and Sierra Nevada’s Hop Hunter out of Cali, then Full Sail from Oregon. With another addition to the echelon from New England, we are no longer tied… the Easterners have the edge. With the 6.1% it’s not really a hot-day beer, but the all ’round excellence of this masterpiece is an easy 9.3 rating. Ignore baseball but love this beer.

Oskar Blues Pinner IPA

Oskar Blues Pinner IPA
Oskar Blues Pinner IPA

Tasty, almost salty, canned IPA in the wry-humor Oskar tradition. 4.9% alk here and not terribly hoppy. Can’s outside claims this as a “throwback” IPA, so perhaps that means “before people went goofy about hops” and “before nutsos started trying to out-do each other in alcohol content.” So this is a mildly hopped IPA, in modern comparison, just more hoppy than regular beer so you can tell it’s an IPA.

But there is that saltiness. Had a few IPA’s where the citrus and evergreen nearly combined into a salt flavor, nudged right up against that border. But this one falls over the line. It’s not distracting enough to make the beer wretched, but salt does some weird things to other tastes. It makes a beer’s natural bready taste cross over into crackery. Makes pine taste like resin and makes citrus taste like blood.

No kidding, drinking this i thought a couple times “hey, that kinda tastes like blood.” So no, i won’t buy this again. Will enjoy the other five cans, but will think twice about spending $10 on another sixer of a different variety of Oskar Blues beer. This one rates a 4.9 in my book.

Samuel Adams Rebel Rouser Double IPA

Sam Adams' Rebel Rouser 2X IPA
Sam Adams’ Rebel Rouser 2X IPA

There’s an eye-opener. 85 IBU’s, 8.4% alk, and the outside of the can has all kinds of other descriptors like “West Coast Style” and “unapologetically hoppy.” Speaking of the can, this is the fourth Sam Adams “Rebel” IPA i’ve tried, and it should get mentioned that all the cans themselves are top-of-the-line hunks of aluminum. Much more solid and sturdy than most cans these days, and it sounds like a small matter, and it is really, but it’s just a subtle indication that this is a high-class beer operation.

But the horror of that Grapefruit IPA still clouds my opinion of Sam Adams as a whole, and it will for years to come. Apologize, Sam, or i can’t buy any of your stuff anymore. I still shudder when no one’s watching.

Now on to this Double IPA… High alcohol, absurdly hoppy, like giving your mouth a hop bath even though it insisted it was clean already. There’s no slinking around the corners with this one, either you face the hops head-on or they’ll slap your face like you just pinched their sister. Not for dilletantes, this one.

Pine and orange, according to the label, but also pine-bark and rhododendron roots, green berries and scored kafir leaves, this is so hoppy that it nudges right up against the boundary into salty. Drinking this, even your burps come out like Pine-Sol. Drink too much, and i’m sure that you won’t have to buy Lysol… your upchuck will surely leave the toidy sparkling clean.

The beer-body side of the equation is very nice, someone at SA has learned a thing or three about which malts you want if you’re going for the halo of Hoppier Than Thou. Nearly a German body to it, but instead of the sour they’ve brought in the tart. It’s a pretty good beer, and would have an 8.1, but there is the now-automatic deduction for all Sam Adams beers, until they apologize publicly for making that grapefruit IPA. So this one gets a 7.1.

Genesee Brew House Pilsner

GBH's Pilsner
GBH’s Pilsner

Another crafty brew from the enormous and otherwise uncrafty Genny Brewery. To lift a wet finger to the beerworld winds, it seems like the craze for IPAs is dwindling down, and the next craze, though uncertain at this date, might just be Pilseners. Crisp light-body beers, lower in strength than IPA, lighter in hops, and all that makes the brewer’s art stand out in higher relief.

This here is a good example, though i admit that i have not been jumping all over the Pilsener wagon, but this is indeed crisp, lightly hopped and low-alk at 5.0%. As said before, i prefer a lager, so in the dark ages before crafts, i’d usually go for the lager Bud over the pilsener Miller. The pils heartland in America was always the Upper Midwest, where North Germans settled heavily… think Milwaukee and Detroit.

So with my limited comparison skills, this brew blows the doors off of the Miller i know and remember. This is hoppier, likely a nod to the current fashion in overall brewing, and it’s got real beer taste, which an 80s megabrewer had to forego in the rush to get as much beer as possible out onto the loading dock.

I like this, but at $9 for a sixer, and being neither a lager nor IPA, i probably won’t buy it again. Plenty of things i totally adore are only a buck more per 6. All considered, i can give this a hearty 7.0 for quality and for killing the preconceived notion of a pilsener, even though they spell it “Pilsner” on the label, heh.

Samuel Adams Rebel Cascade IPA

Sam Adams Rebel Cascade IPA
Sam Adams Rebel Cascade IPA

OK, i have to deduct one full point from my rating here, because of the horror of SA’s Grapefruit IPA which refuses to leave me, even after a couple weeks. And i’m sticking to my promise: i will never buy any Samuel Adams product again, until they publicly apologize for putting grapefruit juice into beer.

This is a good IPA, however. At a strong 7.3% alk, with 76 IBU’s, and i now know what an IBU is, thanks to an article in a local weekly about local craft breweries. It’s a real beer, with fully malted barley and finished with darn heavy hops, but it does go a little overboard on the hops, a problem which SA’s exquisite 48º Latitude IPA does not suffer from.

Nicely drinkable here, smooth texture in the mouth and rich beer body underneath the cloak of hops. But that 7.3% keeps it from being a “kickin back” beer. There’s really no point in running that race anymore, the Hoppier Than Thou race is over and Sierra Nevada has won. But this one got a mention on the final leaderboard, and that’s something to cheer up someone’s Grandma.

After deducting the Sam Adams Grapefruit Penalty, this Cascade IPA rates a 7.2 for quality brewing and attention to ingredients.